“Please don’t do that. My brother doesn’t like it,” my daughter’s words to her friend filled me with more pride than anything I’d ever accomplished on my own.
Sure my son and daughter argue, they’re siblings, but they’re also friends. I’m always reminding my daughter that her brother is her only brother, her only sibling, so she should appreciate him and treat him like the special person he is.
I explain as much to my son too but in much simpler terms.
Lil’ J is getting older and making her own friends and coming into her own personality. Making friends isn’t always easy, dare I say especially for little girls. We can get in our heads a lot wondering what she’s thinking about us, if we said something wrong, if they like their other friends more than us. We can really complicate things in our minds.
As I talk to my daughter about friendship there are lessons I want her to remember.
1. Don’t judge a book by its cover: Don’t ever decide you immediately don’t want to like or be someone’s friend because of the way they look or dress. I’d even go a little further and say that if someone comes across as mean or harsh at first, not to take it personally or hold it against them. You don’t know what is going on in their lives.
2. Be kind: It seems simple enough but sometimes this can be hard. Be king. No matter a person’s beliefs, their religion or background. Be kind. In the words of Aesop “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
3. Don’t compare: There is no one in the world who is just like you, so don’t compare yourself to others. Jealousy won’t get you anywhere. Comparison is the thief of joy. Love your friends for who they are, and love and appreciate your own traits and talents.
4. Compassion is key: Another quote from another wise woman, Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So have compassion for others. If you notice a friend seems down, lend a helping hand.
5. Empathy: It’s one thing to feel bad for a friend who is having a tough time. It’s an entirely different thing to climb down into that space with them, listen to them, hug them, and put yourself in their shoes. When you are empathetic you truly try to understand what they’re going through, even when and especially when that may be difficult for you. You don’t have to understand everything, but listening, caring and truly trying to understand can go a long way.
I consider myself so lucky to have many people I call my friends and I know you will too. Keep these important lessons in mind when building friendships and others will be blessed to call you a friend.
I know I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. What lessons do you want your children to know about kindness and friendship?
Teaching my children about kindness and building valuable friendships is something that’s important to me, which is why I partnered with American Girl® on this post. Their new line of WellieWishersTM dolls have a focus on empathy, kindness, and the importance of being a good friend. Thank you to American Girl for providing product to me for free for my review and for sparking a great conversation about friendships.